Health

NICE approves eye drug for diabetes

eye
Image caption The drug is injected into the patient's eye

A drug that can save the sight of people with diabetes may now be made available on the NHS in England and Wales - reversing an earlier decision.

At least 50,000 people in the UK have diabetic macular oedema which can leave people unable to read, work or drive.

In 2011, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said ranibizumab, which is sold as Lucentis, was too expensive.

A final decision will be made in February.

Macular oedema occurs when fluid leaks from the small blood vessels in the eye.

Diabetes can trigger changes to the blood vessels leading to fluid collecting in the central part of the retina called the macular area.

Saving sight

Prof Carole Longson, from NICE, said the manufacturers had agreed to reduce the price which led to a review of the guidance.

"NICE is pleased to recommend ranibizumab as a treatment option for some people with visual impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema in new draft guidance."

Clara Eaglen, eye health policy and campaigns manager at the charity RNIB, said: "We believe NICE has thrown a lifeline to the growing number of people with diabetes facing blindness.

"Currently people are needlessly losing their sight from diabetic macular oedema."

Barbara Young, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "We are delighted that NICE have reconsidered their previous decision, and that this draft guidance recommends that Lucentis is made available on the NHS, as this would mean more people with diabetes would have a better opportunity to preserve and possibly improve their vision."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites